Thirdeyemom

Watching London’s Changing of the Guards in the Spring

We arrived in London on Mother’s Day in early May and were welcomed by brilliant Spring sunshine and flowers. For the next two days, we would be gifted with England’s finest weather and the following two days with typical London in the spring: Rain, rain and more rain. Thankfully, we got a little bit of both because four days in London in the pouring rain would not have been much fun for sightseeing and taking pictures.

We stayed at the Citadines which rents out apartments and was centrally located a block away from Trafalgar Square making it the perfect base for exploring Central London. We had a two bedroom flat for the three of us and it was fantastic to have the extra space. Even better however was how close we were to every main tourist attraction: Piccadilly Circus, Buckingham Palace, the river Thames, the parks, theater, restaurants and loads of cafes, restaurants and pubs. Everything was literally a few minutes walk away which was delightful given how much time we spent on our feet.

The first full morning in London was sensational with sunny blue skies and record temperatures reaching almost 80 degrees (26 C). We could hardly believe our luck and rest assured, it was definitely going to be running out soon as two days later we would be wallowing in the notorious wet and dreary London rain.

We decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and take a stroll through the park towards Buckingham Palace where we would watch the famous changing of the guards that typically occurs daily at 11:30 at Buckingham Palace. We left shortly after a late breakfast and headed towards the Mall leading to the palace.

Pall Mall, London England

Entering the Pall Mall, a long tree-lined street that passes next to St. James Park and brings you to Buckingham Palace.

The Changing of the Guard is a 500-year old ceremony where the Old Guard hands over responsibility for protecting Buckingham Palace and St. James Palace to the New Guard. Perhaps one of the top tourist attractions in London, it is a must-see for any visitor. Although I’m not one for touristy things I will admit it was interesting to witness. I was truly mesmerized by the beautiful black horses rode by the guardsman and the gorgeous gardens and grounds surrounding the palace.

During the ceremony, “immaculately turned out guards, precision drill and bands playing stirring music all combine to make Changing of the Guard one of London’s most popular attractions that epitomizes the pomp and military ceremony for which Britain is famous. When the Royal Standard is flying, from the roof of Buckingham Palace, Her Majesty The Queen is in residence and the ‘Queen’s Guard’ will consist of 3 officers and 40 men otherwise the guard will be composed of 3 officers and 31 men”. (Source: Changing-Guard.com)

Horse Guard Road, London England

We left around 10:30 and it was already getting crowded with camera-clad tourists and groups headed to Buckingham Palace to claim their spots. Judging by the crowds, it you wanted any chance of getting close and snapping a photo of the changing of the guards you best be there at least an hour early. We weren’t particularly concerned with fighting the crowds and instead wanted to take our time getting there. I’m glad we did as little did we know, the changing of the horse guards would be first.

Right as we were able to cross the street to St. James Park, we saw a line of majestic black horses and guards heading our way to the horse guard station. We stopped in our tracks and watched in awe as these beautiful creatures passed us by.

Horse Guards, London England

Horse Guards, London England

Horse Guards, London England

Horse Guards, London England

The London Eye is in the background

Horse Guards, London England

The changing of the horse guard ceremony took at least twenty minutes and was all pomp and ceremony with lots of flashes of the camera, selfie sticks and videos by the mesmerized tourists. I was amazed how the horses ignored the swarming crowds and stood there so patiently and majestically.

After the changing of the horse guards, it was the marching band that would lead to Buckingham Palace for the official Changing of the Guards. We followed along at a quickened pace trying to beat the crowds and snap a few photos of the funny black hats and stoic uniforms.

Changing of the Guards, London England

Changing of the Guards, London England

Changing of the Guards, London England

Changing of the Guards, London England

And then they arrived at Buckingham Palace to the frenzy of tourists trying to capture a view of the Changing of the Guards.

Changing of the Guards, London England

We couldn’t get any closer for a better view so we decided to head back through lovely St. James Garden where the spring flowers were in full bloom. Everyone in London was out enjoying the day and the gardens were packed with Londoners getting their fill of nature and greenery. I couldn’t think of a more perfect day to be there.

London, England

Leaving Buckingham Palace and looking back towards Central London

St. James Garden, London EnglandSt. James Garden, London England

I was in heaven as I absolutely love flowers. The gardens were absolutely spectacular, bursting with brilliant colors. I could have spent the entire day simply visiting the gardens of London and taking pictures.

St. James Garden, London England

St. James Garden, London EnglandSt. James Garden, London EnglandSt. James Garden, London EnglandSt. James Garden, London EnglandSt. James Garden, London EnglandSt. James Garden, London EnglandSt. James Garden, London EnglandSt. James Garden, London England

The flowers were in jubilant bloom and bursting to the sky. There were also gorgeous fragrant flowering trees within the park and alongside the historic homes of London. I really loved this tree below that was layered in white blossoms. I have no idea what kind it is but would love one in my backyard at home.

St. James Garden, London England

St. James Garden, London England

 

By the time we reached the end of St. James Garden, our stomachs were growling and it was time for the next adventure: Lunch. With so many choices, it was bound to take us a long time to decide on a place to eat.

If you go:

Changing-Guard.com is loaded with history, details and assistance for tourists who want to find the perfect place to view the Changing of the Guards. It even tells you the songs the band plays, the guards routes, and lists special events.

This post was inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Jubilant. 

49 comments

  1. Spectacles which are guaranteed to inspire jubilation! Also, thanks for handy tips and ideas, which we are noting toward a visit booked for the end of the year.

  2. We were there last year for Trooping the Colour (the celebration of the Queen’s birthday) in June. We had beautiful weather the previous 2 days, but that day was a little mizzly, but not heavy rain. It was really cool to see the royals, even if from a distance.

      • We don’t own the winery I write for, but my husband is the winemaker and in charge of their vineyards. We do have our own private label and own a small parcel planted with Tempranillo, but I don’t do a blog for that, even though I’ve mentioned it to my husband a few times 😉

  3. That must have been fabulous to see. I’ve been to London many times and have never bothered to go see the changing of the guard. Silly me. You got some wonderful shots – of the guards, and of the flowers. Nothing better than London in the spring on a sunny day.
    Alison

  4. Pingback: Jubilant (Watering the Plants) | What's (in) the picture?

  5. Nicole we stood for what seemed like a very long time to see the changing of the guards. I have to say for the actual ‘changing’ I was rather disappointed. The parades of horses were far more interesting in my opinion. Lovely images by the way.

    • Yes they are marvelous! There are so many gardens in London but unfortunately for us, it rained the next two days and rained heavily. We still briefly walked through the Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park (which is enormous) and I would have spent much more time there. I know there are tons of more gardens to see as I read an article on it while I was there but these should at least keep you busy.

  6. I remember taking the kids to the changing of the guard years ago … we watched and enjoyed the horses and the outfits, too, but then headed into the gardens as you did! Glad your London weather was 50% good!

    • I was thinking how fun this would have been for the kids. I am not the touristy type but my sister wanted to see it. I’m glad I did as it is part of London and experiencing it. The royalty is such a big part of it. Yep, the rest of the time there was the eternal London rain. Wow, it was constant!

  7. Stunning pictures of the gardens Nicole, I felt like I was walking through them with you. I remember watching the Changing of the Guard many years ago when I was in London, brought back lots of memories. Love all your photos.

    • Thanks Miriam! It was so nice to be there in such beautiful weather. We did the double decker bus tour the next day in the pouring rain which was unfortunate as I can imagine how wonderful it would be with the sun shining.

      • Oh, that sounds like typical London weather. Still, it sounds as though you had a great time. How’s your new puppy going? Is he sleeping through yet? 🙂

      • Puppy is doing great. Sleeping much better thankfully. Just trying to get used to the crazy end of school year time. Summer holiday is in two weeks already!

      • Glad to hear he’s sleeping better Nicole, so you obviously are too! Summer holiday in two weeks, how wonderful! We’ve been plunged into unofficial winter here, it’s so cold and wet …

  8. So jubilant, that ecstatic display of tulips, Nicole! I love St. James’ Park, and a bit of pomp and ceremony 🙂 It’s Chelsea Flower Show this week and every year I wonder why I’m not there. The weather has been crazy so your timing was pretty good.

    • Yes the first two days were wonderful and the last two days were miserably wet but of course we still had a lot of fun. It is a fantastic city indeed!

  9. What a interesting interpretation of the challenge; makes me want to see more of your work as a photographer.

    I’ll be following you from now on. Have an amazing day! 🙂

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